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From Politics to Psychology: Academic Crossroads

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Writer: Nur Amalina Shamsun Nahar for Innustame


When pursuing higher education, we often find ourselves at a crossroads, faced with decisions that will shape our academic and professional paths. While many prefer to stay within their chosen fields and specialise, some dare to venture beyond the crossroads.




Ananya, a 21-year-old Political Science and Sociology graduate from the University of Delhi, personifies this brave choice. Ananya discovered a deep interest for Psychology while conducting fieldwork for her Bachelor's program, interviewing women from her hometown to understand the effects and difficulties that women faced during COVID.


Coming from a small town in Uttarakhand, India, Ananya is now in Ireland, enrolled in a two-year conversion course in Applied Psychology at the University College Cork. She wholeheartedly embraces this decision to switch fields without any regrets.


What made you choose Psychology as your field of study after studying Political Science?


”According to my background, Political Science and Sociology, choosing to study Economics made a little bit of sense… But my heart said Psychology because after my field experience I thought to myself Okay, I think I'll go with my heart”

In the midst of doing her final year project for her Bachelor's, Ananya had the chance to interview women from her hometown to understand the effects and difficulties that women faced during COVID. While in the field, questions of being ethical, mindful and caring when interviewing based on sensitive topics came into her mind. She realised she was more interested in the individual stories that shaped decision of these brave women. This led her to choose Psychology as her next steps.



How did you decide to choose Ireland to pursue your degree?


When Ananya decided to pursue Psychology, she faced various factors that influenced her choice of destination. In India, options for conversion courses into Psychology were limited, making it challenging to enter a Master's program without a strong Psychology foundation. While she wanted to explore her options before committing to a Master's, she considered the United Kingdom a potential choice due to its one-year conversion courses opportunities. However, she believed she needed a longer time to decide which field of Psychology to explore and specialise in.


During her research, Ireland caught her attention with its two-year conversion course options and affordable education. What solidified her decision was a podcast the Founder of Innustame, Preeti Samuel Rajendran, shared with her called An Easter Re-rising produced and narrated by Pranjali Bhave, It revealed the historical connection between Irish revolutionaries and Indian freedom fighters, evoking a strong sense of belonging and connection. With this, Ananya chose Ireland as her study destination, eager to embark on this two-year conversion course that felt both enriching and potentially familiar.


Can you tell me how that transition went from India to Ireland?


“As time passed, I accepted that I am in a different land. I noticed the beauty and people were very polite."

Ananya explains the transition from India to Ireland brought her face-to-face with a whole new world that initially left her feeling disoriented and unprepared. The suddenness of everything, from being on a waitlist for her desired course to navigating a challenging and gruelling visa process that took her to five different cities, took a toll on her. Obtaining your visa as an international student may be one of the most complicated challenges. However, it does not have to be as stressful as it is and there are ways to make it easier! By applying early, reviewing the necessary documents and checking the requirements and following the required procedures, you can minimise and avoid most problems. See visa tips on our Instagram Post.


Arriving in Ireland felt like an instant jolt, with no lived experiences of the culture or the people aside from the podcast and the historical connections she had discovered. For the first three months, Ananya explains, her body felt shut down, wrestling with the unfamiliarity of her surroundings. However, as time passed, Ananya began to embrace her new reality. She noticed the inherent beauty of Ireland and experienced the warmth and politeness of the people, which, although initially unsettling, gradually made her feel more at ease.



While the differences in everyday stuff, such as the food and grocery stores, were evident, Ananya recognised that people everywhere share similar experiences of facing challenges.. She admits that international students' journey may have difficulties, but the potential for growth and connection makes it a worthwhile adventure.


So with the things you struggled with in those three months, how did you overcome them?


Ananya was quick to say her friends and support system in Ireland played a pivotal role in her adjustment to her new surroundings. Initially, it took some time for her to get to know her friends, but she quickly discovered that they were genuinely kind and understanding. They empathised with her background and supported her throughout her settling in. She knew she could rely on her friends to lend a listening ear and offer guidance whenever she was feeling down. She explains that her friends had made her feel cared for and understood. The warmth and understanding of the people she met reinforced the idea that kindness knows no boundaries or cultural differences.


How is International Student Life in Ireland?

University College Cork's students' academic culture has brought fulfilment and joy to Ananya's educational journey. She highlights that the university's research-oriented approach is a refreshing change from her undergraduate experience. While it can be initially daunting for international students with different academic backgrounds, the university provides abundant resources and support. She explains that while the university is exceptional, the Irish culture also fosters a holistic approach to life. In Cork City, students embrace a well-rounded lifestyle, indulging in the vibrant pub culture, hiking in the fields with cows, and taking a break from the city. Ananya has also found comfort in the company of fellow international students, particularly those from India. Her university has an Indian Society that celebrates cultural events like Diwali and Holi, fostering a more profound sense of home and belonging.




How was it like switching fields?

”I think what inspired me and kind of gave me the courage to switch fields was how much I love this field. I do not regret it even for a second.”

Transitioning from Political science to Psychology was relatively smooth for Ananya, thanks to her science background in secondary school. Ananya understood that switching fields in higher education might seem daunting for some, but she firmly believes in pursuing what truly resonates with one's interests and aspirations.


She says the real struggle would be being on the wrong academic path and regretting rather than adjusting to a new field that aligns with what inspires and motivates you to keep learning. For her, this switch eliminated any unnecessary struggle and brought a sense of clarity and fulfilment in her higher education pursuits.


What advice would you give other students moving abroad to study, especially if they come from a different academic background?


When asked this question, Ananya laughed and said I'm not good with advice. Yet, she shared the most simple and needed words:

“Be kind to yourself and take care.”

She explains that sometimes as international students, we can be very rough on ourselves and set many expectations due to the pressure of needing to succeed. She says she was very impatient with herself and compared herself to her classmates doing much better than her.

“Oh My God, I don't know why you were so rough with yourself. You were jet lagged. You were figuring everything out!”

Acknowledging that adjusting to a new country and context can be difficult, but the transition to feeling settled in is temporary.






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